Over the weekend, Busy Philipps, 38, was hanging with her BFF Michelle Williams when excruciating pain in her right side landed her in the hospital, according to an Instagram post in which Busy detailed the incident.
Her diagnosis: an ovarian torsion, a condition that occurs when your ovary and/or fallopian tube twists around the ligaments they’re suspended by. “This is similar to how a necklace charm may twist on its chain,” says Dr. April Batcheller, M.D., a reproductive endocrinologist at the Colorado Center for Reproductive Medicine‘s Minneapolis location. Because these ligaments deliver blood to the ovary, and twisting can cut off blood supply, the organ can die if the issue is left unresolved.
Ovarian torsions can come out of nowhere, but they’re also associated with pregnancy, a history of torsion, tied tubes, or enlarged ovaries linked to ovulation, ovarian cysts, or polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), according to Dr. Batcheller. If you have any of the risk factors listed above, vigorous activities like running, bouncing, doing yoga inversions or Pilates, or even having sex can increase your likelihood of experiencing a torsion, she says.
While rare, young and old women can experience an ovarian torsion, though it mostly affects women of reproductive age. The condition can require immediate surgical intervention to untwist the ovary, remove any cysts that are enlarging the ovary, or remove the problematic ovary itself, according to Dr. Batcheller.
Luckily, Busy didn’t need surgery since her ovary “flipped back by itself,” according to her post.
While Busy feels fine now, she’s hella glad she hit up the hospital — just in case. “I felt like an idiot for going to the hospital, but ultimately, going was the right move! It always is!” wrote the host of the podcast, We’re No Doctors.
Dr. Batcheller couldn’t agree more. “Ovarian torsion is a surgical emergency,” she says, adding that women who experience symptoms such as sudden, extreme lower abdominal pain isolated on one side, with potential nausea, vomiting, sweating, or fever should call their OB-GYNs, who can determine whether an emergency-room visit is warranted. There, a doctor can perform a physical exam and diagnostic ultrasound. If needed, you can get into surgery ASAP, which could help preserve your ovary and fertility.
“If you listen to my podcast, you know our advice is always, ‘don’t be a hero, go to the doctor,'” Busy wrote on Instagram. (Copy that!)
Follow Elizabeth on Instagram and Twitter.